Small businesses have certainly suffered amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some long-favorited restaurants closed temporarily, and that was difficult and tragic enough for their loyal patrons.
Imagine if more closed for good.
Five New Jersey eateries were named to Esquire's list of "100 Restaurants America Can't Afford to Lose."
If you've been to any of them, you probably already know why.
Cowan's Public, Nutley: The Irish pub with a speakeasy vibe was built on Centre Street in the 1920s and opened about 15 years later.
What Esquire says: "The craft-beer, proper-drink, good-food revolution arrived in this corner of North Jersey a few years ago with this simple but beautiful Art Deco restaurant. The town has embraced it like something it never knew it was missing. To lose it would be a step backward."
Egan and Sons, Montclair: A family with 100-year-old roots in Montclair and a Dublin publican teamed up bring Egan & Sons to Walnut Street.
What Esquire says: "Remarkably good British/Irish pub food in a bright and open and airy set of rooms. At the heart of it is a soccer bar that draws somehow-not-annoying fans from all over. Best place to watch an EPL match over fish and chips and an oatmeal stout."
Nanina's in the Park, Belleville: This Italian villa at the north end of Branch Brook Park has hosted countless communions, weddings and gatherings for more than 65 years.
What Esquire says: It’s a banquet hall that actually does Italian food really well, because it has to. An institution.
The Shrimp Box, Point Pleasant: Located right on the water, the Shrimp Box serves fried seafood with a side of sunsets and ocean views.
What Esquire says: The Shrimp Box is so important to my family that on one crazy summer afternoon, when our twins were still newborns, my wife and I suddenly put the babies in the car and drove three hours on the Jersey Turnpike because I had determined, in my sleep-deprived fog, that I needed some fried seafood and the kids needed to be exposed to the Jersey Shore air in the beach town that my dad’s people had originally come from. This was a stupid thing to do. When we arrived at the Shrimp Box, there was a two-hour wait for a table, and we were stuck there, hours from home, holding two weary, smelly babies. Did I perhaps let it slip that my grandmother was the late Thelma Gordinier, who in her time was the empress of the Shrimp Box? Did a table happen to materialize within minutes? When you’re a father, you do what you must.
The Squan, Manasquan: This Jersey Shore staple started as a small pizzeria in 1964, but by the 1990s, opened a full dining room serving American and Italian fare.
What Esquire says: The best red-sauce joint on the Jersey Shore has been serving since the sixties. Packed every night, naturally. This right here -- this East Coast alchemy of tomatoes and cheese, sausage and pasta and crust, oregano and olive oil and mouthfuls of bright Chianti -- this is why we keep going back for Italian American food on Friday night.
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